It’s probably not surprising that most consumers purchas Wi-Fi only iPads. Due to component costs, most cellular enabled tablets cost over $100 more than the Wi-Fi models. Obviously, this kind of trend doesn’t make wireless carriers very happy. Ironically, those who purchase a cellular capable tablet, often avoid connecting to the network.
In an effort to expand on cellular tablet usage, AT&T is rolling out new tablet plans that offer convenience to customers who would like the luxury of a data plan, but don’t want to pay for it every month. The first plan allows customers to use a cellular connection (on compatible tablets) for only $5 a day with up to 250MB of data. The second tablet plan will run $25 for 1GB of data and can be used at any point within a three month period.
AT&T announced the new plans at GigaOm’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco. Senior VP Chris Penrose explained the idea behind these new plans (via AllThingsD):
“We really think that a Wi-Fi only tablet is good, but it is not good enough,” said AT&T senior VP Chris Penrose, speaking at the event. The cost of adding a cellular module to tablets is also going down, Penrose said.
“We’ve seen that price go down substantially over the past several years,” Penrose said. “Ultimately we’d like to see tablet manufacturers build just one tablet.”
It would be great to see cellular capable tablets drop in price. I can’t think of a good reason to buy an LTE iPad when I can easily use cellular data anywhere via Personal Hotspot. If Apple only manufactured one tablet that would work across all 3G/LTE networks for the price of a Wi-Fi model, I’d definitely purchase one. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem like Apple’s style, but I could definitely see Android tablet manufacturers going this route.